National News

Army soldier dies after being run over by fishing boat

Posted June 19

— The Army has identified the 49-year-old soldier who died after he was struck by a boat Thursday morning near the Waianae Small Boat Harbor. He was identified as Col. Kirk R. Slaughter.

Slaughter is originally from Lyons, Nebraska. He was on leave and camping at the Pililaau Army Recreation Center at the time of the accident, according to the U.S. Army. He has served in the Army Reserve for more than 30 years with combined enlisted and commissioned time.

It happened just after 7 a.m. near the Harbor entrance.

Waianae fisherman John Sylva told KITV he was returning from an overnight trip.

Investigators with the State's Department of Land and Natural Resources say Sylva's 21- foot boat ran over a surfer in the water.

He then tried desperately to get the victim to shore. A dolphin tour operator preparing to head of the harbor with a boatload of customers heard a distress call, and sprang into action.

"There was male in the water and there was a female on the boat. She was panicking, saying help, help, help. All we did was try to get him to safety," said Capt. Michael Palabay of Dolphin and You Tours.

Two of his crewmen jumped in to help the lone fisherman and the victim's teenage daughter.

Palabay said it happened about 200 yards off shore on the other side of the breakwater.

"We had our photographer and one of our safety swimmers jump in the water to assist," said Palabay.

Another tour group on shore say they knew something was wrong when they say the two boats heading back to the docks.

"We didn't know what was going on because they were coming in fast. They had a guy laid out he had an amputated arm, and a blue towel around his face," said Holly Stakes of EO Waianae Tours.

Investigators retrieved two surfboards and a pair of fins. One board had its rear end severed. The state's conservation resource officers and police are still investigating the accident.

One of the tour operators told KITV he talked to the brother of the victim who said the family was staying at the Army's recreation Center. DLNR says the victim had been stationed at Fort Shafter.

Long time users of the harbor say they have seen commercial activity in the area increase over the last decade.

Some fishermen said there have been many close calls out on the water and would welcome additional markers to avoid any conflict with harbor users.

"Anytime you are in the harbor or in the entrance you are at risk of getting hit," said Waianae fisherman Robert Goodwin.

Tour groups said they spent extra time going over safety briefings following the accident.

They hope paddlers, surfers and swimmers take the extra step to be visible in the water.

"Sometimes we run into snorkelers, paddle boarders, people who swim out to see the dolphins. Lots of times we see people who don't use dive flags and if you drift out there without your board, and with the number of boats that go out of the harbor it makes it extremely dangerous. It was just an unfortunate event," said Sam Sniffen of EO Waianae Tours.

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